You Can Do It Even If you Can’t B&Q It

Yeah, I know. the title really only makes sense if you are (1) British (2) have a memory for old TV adverts and (3) over a certain age. Seeing as I fit all three requirements, I went with it anyway. Keeping it short and instructional today, but it still counts as writing a post and keeping me ahead of my fortnightly posts goal! Yay me!

I’ve been taking advantage of the glorious May weather recently and doing whatever errands I can by foot instead of driving and yesterday, as I strolled to the hardware store to buy some lightbulbs, it occurred to me that I hadn’t shared with you guys where you could do the same.

Lightbulbs are sold in most of the major box stores (aka supermarkets) as well as in Daiso, but I find that the best priced and longest lasting ones come from the hardware store. Called ‘mom&pop’ stores (Another American-ism that I am fighting to adopt) there are a few of these dotted around Songdo, but I pretty much always go to the same one. It is easy to recognise it, by the plethora of ladders, brooms and other D-I-Y-ish type things decorating the outside. The particular one I go to is by the Prugio 600 apartments (flats! I mean flats!!) and run by a very nice middle aged couple who don’t speak English. The first time I went, I took the old lightbulb with me so that they could match it to the correct one in the store, and now I still take empty boxes just to be on the safe side. They’ve gotten used to that and always throw away my empty boxes for me, so that that’s handy.

As well as lightbulbs, you can meet all of your tool needs and probably even get some ply wood or plasterboard etc for mini projects at home. I’ve seen paints and varnishes, soldering irons (Raj refuses to let me become a soldering expert. It’s so unfair. I’m currently working out how to smuggle my dad’s old solder from England into Korea so I can practice my skills anyway, but that’s another story for another day) and all sorts of other goodies. Of course, before I discovered this place we copped out and supplemented our meagre tool supply from England with a couple of Ikea sets, and to be honest, that’s fine for us, but for those handier folks among you, this hardware store is the place to go.

Another useful thing is that you can get, what I technically call ‘the picture hangy things’ at this store. Yo’ll find most of the apartments (flats!) have picture tracks in the ceiling, so you need to find the hanging wires that screw into the tops of frames or hook onto the back of them in order to hang your prints. I was buying these on the ground floor (Korean first floor) of Lotte for 6,500won each and the good thing about these ones, is that they came with both the screw and hook attachment and the wire is super thin, so you can hardly notice it hanging up. However, if you are less fussed about that and know whether you need screws or hooks, you can get the same thing at the hardware store for 3,000won a pop. Every penny counts and all that.

So go, check out the bursting shelves and get your step count up while you are at it.

Note: I can’t do a map today because my laptop has imploded and I’m waiting to take it to the recommended computer fix it guru in Seoul. In the meantime I’m using Raj’s Mac and although it is supposed to be fancier and better at these things, a lot of it comes down to user ability and I am firmly a PC person. So here’s a picture of the outside of the store – it’s on the corner of Haedoji-ro and Convensia-Daero.. have a wander, you’ll find it!

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And I’m back

Yeah, it has been rather a long hiatus from the blog, and I’ve learnt from reading a lot of other blogs in the last few months that a few words of explanation to whatever following I have are required. So here goes, with a post that I have definitely been putting off writing – Dealing with Death as an Expat.

After the Christmas break, which we spent on home leave, I got back to Korea the day after celebrating my dad’s 71st birthday with him in London. And three weeks later, I was back in London because my dad wasn’t doing very well, and three very short, but at the same time, horribly long, days after I landed at London Heathrow, he passed away on 15th February 2018.

The next five weeks that I was in London were a mix of sadness, family togetherness and paperwork and admin speared by a constant sense of longing and loss. Everyday brought new challenges and tasks that my mum, brothers and I had to work out how to deal with – the same as anyone who has lost a central figure in their family has to do – and we learnt a lot about our resilience as a family through the process. I’m not going to bore you with all the things that have to be dealt with in the UK when a person dies, but I will say this – if you are in a position that you might have to take the lead in making such arrangements in your home country then make sure you know what is required well before. Getting off a plane and trying to find out what to do and at the same time, get it done, is hard. We, sadly, had a lot of support from family who had been through all the processes, which made registering the death and organizing the funeral so much easier and without that, we would have been lost.

One of my personal biggest challenges was getting on the plane to come home to Korea. SO. MUCH. GUILT. Leaving the country that was my dad’s home hurt. I desperately wanted to stay in London but I equally desperately wanted to come home. Wherever I was, I would be leaving someone behind and at that moment, it was more than I could bear. It was scary and hard but I’m thankful for a supportive family, in both countries, who made it all easier.

A couple of days before I left London, a friend who had gone through his own family bereavement as an expat wrote to me and shared his experiences and top of the list was that coming back to Songdo (especially as a non-working spouse) feels weird. Weird. Yeah, total understatement and it starts with the flight. Those long hours by yourself that you spend wanting to relive every memory that you possibly can but at the same time, you don’t want to think about your loss, because  doing do makes the tears come. Realising that next time you fly into the country, there is going to be a big, person-shaped hole. Feeling like wherever you are, you need to be in the other country. I personally dealt with those feelings by getting drunk in the lounge. Yes it was a morning flight and I was the only person pouring large glasses of wine at 9am, but never mind. So yeah, the flight home was hard. I landed on a Friday and straight away just threw myself into the things that needed to be done here – distraction is key and for the most part, helps. We’d also planned to spend the weekend in Seoul, and again, having things to do and keeping busy helped to settle into what feels like an entirely new life, all over again. Of course, it’s different for everyone, but here are my tips for coping with bereavement as an expat… some will say these are tips for coping with a bereavement wherever you are, but when you are far away from your loved one’s home, the isolation is real and can be harder to overcome.

Be Kind

I cannot overstate this enough. Yes, you will have responsibilities and things to do each day, but being kind to yourself is so important. Don’t let a day stretch out in front of you with nothing to do (see the next point…) but equally, don’t overload yourself and try to be superhuman. Feel your feelings whenever you need to don’t push yourself to do too much too soon.

Distract Yourself 

Have a plan. Give yourself a reason to get dressed and leave the house everyday. If you are the kind of person that can go for a walk just for the sake of it (I’m not!) then that’s great, but I can only go for a walk if it has a purpose. So I re-started my step goal (much reduced from the recommended 10,000 daily – it has to be realistic or not meeting it is another thing that will get you down) and my walking purpose is now to meet my step goal. But that’s me. You could do anything, from getting a coffee from a different shop each day, taking a selfie from a new location to send your family, getting daily groceries instead of doing a big shop, whatever. The point is, to get out and break up your daily scenery. It’s OK to have the odd day of staying in glued to Netflix, but just don’t let that become your everyday if you can avoid it.

Hang a Picture 

In Indian culture, when a parent dies, you always hang a picture of them in your house. Mine is hanging in my living room where I can see my dad everyday, and have a little chat with him as I go about my chores. Just a quick few words, rather like the WhatsApp message we would exchange anyway with what I’m up to, which makes me feel ready to start my day.

Start a Memory Box 

I have a memory box filled with random things that belonged to my dad – some that I gave him, some that have no use to anyone else but I will forever associate with him. Some days, I look through the things in my box and have a little smile. I’ve put all my dad’s old hankies into my own hanky rotation. Just a little part of him that I get to keep with me every day.

Scan Photos

If you’re not taking all your photos from home with you, make sure you have a few scanned to take with you, so you can look at the photos as you want. I recently read something that said ‘You think photos don’t matter? Wait until they are all you have left.’ So true. I was in the habit of making a photo calendar every year in any case so I had a lot of photos on my computer but now, these pictures have been so valuable.

Get Back into Your Routine 

Obviously, take your time, but getting back into your routine is so important. Mine has changed up slightly – I go to my trainer twice a week at the moment, as I recognised that I don’t have the motivation to do my homework twice a week, so it’s a good change but having the regular things to do that I would do ‘before’ helps. It’s taken me a month, but I’ve also started writing my blog again (hello!) and thinking of ideas for the next few posts. Throughout it all, remember to always be kind. I’m aiming for a post every two weeks now, instead of every week, but at least it is a start. I’ve always spoken to my mum daily, wherever I’ve lived, and we have kept to this, even if all we have to say is a three-minute ‘you ok? yeah, you ok? yeah.’ before we get on with our days. I plan my week on a Sunday evening while Raj catches up with emails and if any day is looking a bit on the lean side, it gives me a chance to think of something to do… usually going to Wolmido Island because…

Scatter Ashes 

… it is where I scattered some of my dad’s ashes. For sure this isn’t for everyone, but I brought some of my dad’s ashes back to Korea with me (make sure you have the right paperwork to do so!) and Raj and I went to Wolmido Island, walked to the top of the mountain and I picked a spot to scatter the ashes over looking the docks to the right (he was a sailor at heart) and from where he could see Songdo to the left. I’ve been back there once or twice, eaten a sandwich, read a few pages of my book and always left with a sense of peace. I know we won’t live in Korea forever, but I know that spot will always be there and I know that the international traveller that my dad was, he’d be happy knowing he makes his final home in three different countries (England, Korea and Canada, where my big brother lives.)

Take Your Time 

Last but not least, take your time. Nobody can dictate how long you’ll take to process your bereavement. Counselling is SUCH a great help, and if you are in an English-speaking country, or a country where you speak the language, you’ll be able to find the support you need through your local hospital/insurance provider. Even where speaking face-to-face isn’t an option, there are so many therapists who offer online counselling – via Skype or webcam.  It can often be easier telling a stranger about your feelings than anyone else so do you research and do what’s right for you.

There’s no magic wand that you can wave to make your pain disappear and it is SUCH A LIE that the pain reduces over time. What is true, is that your life continues to grow around your pain, accommodating and acknowledging it at every step, and one day, you’ll realise your joy outweighs your sadness. It can take a different amount of time for everyone – a month, 6 months, a year, whatever and that’s just fine. I can’t tell you how long it took me, because I’m not there yet, but, with my dad looking down at me from the wall, I can say with confidence that I will get there, because that is what he would have wanted for us all and letting him down just isn’t an option.

Anyways. That’s me and my hiatus explained. I’ve got a few different post ideas in mind for the next few months including our trip to Iceland, the changes at Incheon Airport and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics 2018 to name a few. So keep posted, keep your questions coming and above all, let me know what else I can research to make your transition to Songdo easier!

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Herre…

Update 01/12/2017: I’ve had feedback that there is a missing step below however, I followed my instructions exactly as written and it worked on my oven. I can only conclude therefore that as every oven is slightly different, you might have to try pressing a couple of extra buttons in between to get it working as you want!

And that is where we will stop any comparisons to the 2009 Nelly hit because cooking while less than dressed is inadvisable to say the least. Ahem.

When we were apartment hunting, having an oven was one of the overriding requirements – more so than having any furniture/white goods provided, because a life without hope of the odd Jacket Potato is not a life that we want any part of. (Raj likes to tell me I can be a bit of a Drama Queen. This isn’t true, but if it was, I would prefer Princess.) So we were very happy to learn that all the Central Park apartments have built-in ovens – but then came the fun bit, of trying to figure out how to use it. We asked our landlord to show us, but the oven doesn’t feature highly in Korean cooking, and she was only able to show us how to activate the microwave and how to use the oven presets. Now, that’s all well and good, but I had no idea what actual temperature each of the presets related to, so baking anything was a bit hit and miss.

One day, I decided that if all I achieved that day was to work out how to make the oven work, then I would have had a major Korea-win for my collection. Since that day, I seem to have spent a fair bit of time going to people’s apartments to show them how to work their ovens / have them come to mine for the same, so I’ve decided that a quick post on this probably wouldn’t go amiss.

FIrst things first: This is the basic oven setup from all the ovens in Songdo that I have seen. I’ve only labelled the buttons and knobs on the right hand side, as that’s all you need to make the oven work. I think the buttons on the left hand side are for using the presets but I can’t remember and to be honest, do perfectly well without those!

Oven 1

Step 1: Twiddle (for want of a better word) knob A until you see these two symbols in the display

Oven 2.png

Step 2: Once you have the two symbols as above, hit* button B and you’ll see the temperature in the display. You can then turn Knob A again to increase or decrease the temperature as required. Once you’re at the right temperature, hit button B again to lock it in.

Oven 3.png

Step 3: Hit button E at the end to preheat the oven. The little bar will fill up to indicate the oven getting hotter, but even when the bar is full, wait for the beeps to indicate that your required temperature has been reached.

Oven 4.png

Step 4: Once preheated, twiddle Knob C to set the required time, and hit button E to get the cooking going! If at any point you want to cancel and start over, button D is the one you need.

Oven 5.png

Another couple of features of this combination machine include:

  • Microwave: The easiest way to use it is just hitting button E repeatedly to increase the amount of micro-waving time in increments of 30 seconds.
  • Grill: Unlike grills that I am used to, this one only works when the door is closed, so be careful what pans you use in it. To get the grill going, twiddle Knob A until you see the symbol marked below, hit Button B to fix it, adjust the timing with Knob C and get the cooking going by hitting button E. Simples.

Grill 1.png

Happy Baking Everybody!

*Note from Ed: Whether or not you choose to actually hit your oven is up to you – for me it usually depends on how frustrating whatever I am trying to make is proving to be.

Fancy Footwork

I’ve mentioned previously how the problem with pedicures here is the lack of a good foot scrub – I know that’s more than half the reason I want a pedicure most of the time – I mean, painting toenails is not that hard. Yet there aren’t scaly gross feet everywhere you look. Ok yes, most people wear covered shoes and I think even amongst the foreigner community Raj and I are in the minority wearing flip-flops whenever we can get away with it but don’t forget that in all Korean houses and even some traditional Korean restaurants, taking off your shoes at the entrance is the norm.

So apart from taking a file to your feet yourself, how can you achieve the impossible-y smooth feet that the locals have – do an at-home Foot Peel of course. I promised (threatened?) you last week with a full photo diary of how the process worked and I will not disappoint. It is gross and there aren’t really any nice words I can use to describe what happens, so probably best you don’t eat anything whilst reading this particular post.

There are a huge variety of peels that you can buy – as I like to minimise the number of different shops that I have to go to on a given day, I ended up picking up one from Tony Moly:

Although there are pictures, I did need to Google Translate the instructions which basically boil down to:

  • Wash and dry feet and place in the baggies provided
  • Pour the Solution into the baggie
  • Seal baggie up using the tabs
  • Sit for an hour and let the solution work its magic
  • Remove baggies and rinse off the solution from feet.

5. Post Peel

These are my feet immediately post-peel. Just a bit wrinkly from sitting in solution for so long, but nothing drastic yet.

The interesting thing about these foot peels is that the effect is not instant. When I instagrammed (of course) myself using the peel, my cousin wrote to me to tell me that it would take about 2 weeks for the actual peeling to take place so you have to be patient. Had I known this before, rather than waiting for Raj to travel to use the peel, I probably would have used it while he was in town and just timed it for the peeling to happen while he was away – subjecting anyone to the grossness that ensues is just not nice. Also, not a good idea to use these if your home is carpeted.  Just saying.

Now in my case, the heavy-duty peeling started about 7 days after using the pack and finished about 2 weeks later, so that’s the timeline I’d work with. One thing that I think helped things along though is actually wearing socks and shoes, rather than flip-flops. Something to do with the friction of the socks against your skin helps to slowly peel the dead crusty skin away – and its also a useful way not to trail skin everywhere you go. I liked the end result a lot – will definitely be using this more regularly – but I think every couple of months will do the trick! As promised, here’s a little photo diary of my feet… lucky readers!

From left to right, days 1 – 4 Post Peel: still nothing dramatic happening.

Day 5 saw a bit of peeling in the folds of skin around the toes

Day 6 is when the magic really started happening

12. Day 6 Post Peel

From day 7, I basically trailed dead skin wherever I went so I stuck to wearing socks and shoes.

13. Day 7 Post Peel.JPG

You aren’t supposed to pick at the skin to help it come off but I found a bit of gentle rubbing in the shower was good. After all the dead skin went away, I had wonderfully soft feet – but that’s the one thing I forgot to take a picture of! Ooops!

We’ll take it down a notch from the grossness in the next post, I promise!

 

Daiso

Aren’t I just on a roll with these posts **pats self on back.** Well, I’ll let you into a little secret – I’ve actually been in London since my post about going to the cinema and have pre-written and scheduled several posts to publish on set dates. I love discovering new things about WordPress that make it easier for me to see this blogging thing through.

Anyway, I actually can’t believe that I have been in Korea for 22 months and I still haven’t told you about the little slice of heaven that is Daiso. I think that it might have been to do with the fact that I believed my infatuation with the store was overrated, but time has led me to understand that everyone adores this chain of shops as much as I do, and it isn’t in fact unreasonable for me to include it on my ‘things to do in Songdo’ list when we have guests.

Daiso is actually a Japanese Store and I understand that there are branches in a few different Australasian countries – so far I’ve spied (and shopped in) those in Korea and Australia and the best way I can describe it is a Pound/Dollar store, but better. It’s a one stop shop for pretty much everything – whenever I’m in doubt as to where I can get something, the first place I will check is Daiso. Sitting at my dining table and looking around the apartment, I can see cookware, cleaning products, whiteboards, a banana stand, canvas bags… and the list goes on, that I’ve found there. It actually is a great place when setting up your home in Songdo to find all those little bits and pieces that you didn’t think to include in your container but suddenly just cannot live without.

IMG_9858

When I decided I was going to do a spot of crafting and make a tea light holder, everything (except the glue – this was before I found the stationery store) came from Daiso.

 

I also love to get weird and wonderful little Korean gifts for friends and family from here. Well, I say I like to get, we’ve sort of gifted everyone to the max already but on that first trip to London last year, it was where I bought things like Korean sheet-masks, creams, spoons (yes, you read right – these are my favourite things from Daiso) and other random things.

One more great thing (haven’t I sold the store enough already?) about the store is the price. Most things are between 1,000 and 5,000KRW, although I have once or twice paid up to 10,000 KRW for something I really really really needed. (Probably didn’t need at all. But, you know, Daiso.) I usually pop in for one or two things and leave having bought a new reusable bag that I have filled and still only spent about 25,000KRW. It’s one of my shopping habits that doesn’t give Raj a minor heart attack every time he gets the text about what I’ve just spent, so win-win really.

A few weeks ago, I was perturbed to find that my regular Daiso was closed. Now, it isn’t uncommon for stores and restaurants here to shut up shop quite suddenly and be replaced by something equally wonderful or even more so. But the thing is, I can’t think of anything that I would prefer to do than stroll through Daiso but lo and behold, what returned was an EVEN BIGGER (and therefore better) Daiso. Happy Ish. We can stay in Songdo.

Right, so where can you find this wonder-place. My favourite store is on Sinsong-Ro but there are Daiso concessions to be found in Lotte, GS25 Supermarket and Homeplus Songdo (Technopark Station). Further standalone stores can be found at Incheon Bus Terminal Station, right by the ticket gates, and I’ve heard that the newly opened Daiso at Triple Street is one of the largest in Korea – I’m yet to go there, but I’ve told Raj that I’m expecting a Daiso / PF Chang Date Night once I’m back home… Last but not least, earlier this year, an EIGHT STOREY Daiso opened in Myeongdong in Seoul. A piece of advice – don’t go on a weekend, it is mental. The recommendation is to take the lift up to the 8th floor and then walk down the stairs checking out each floor on the way. When we went, the queue for the lift was out the door and even the 1st floor (Western ground floor) was so rammed with people perusing the wares was not possible. I did get a free fan with directions to get back there though… score?! (Ps. even the socks you can spy in the picture of the fan are impulse-Daiso-buys. I actually couldn’t exist without this place.)

Daiso Locations

So off you go and Daiso to your heart’s content. ♥

Eating Out in Songdo

If you are regular reader of this blog, one thing you know about me for sure is that my life is very Food Centric. Mostly because I love to eat good food, especially when someone else will make it, but also because I live with a vegetarian in Korea – otherwise known as the land of meat, meat and some BBQ for good measure.

With this in mind, it is both surprising and unsurprising that I haven’t written about local eateries of note sooner. Well one reason is that the restaurant landscape is ever-changing in Sondo. Apparently high rates often make foodie ventures untenable for owners to maintain so where there was once a Cheese Melt (Cheese Toasties for the Brits amongst us) Shop, has also been a Tiramisu Place and now is, I think, a Sushi restaurant. Secondly, not all the restuarants offer veggie options and I don’t like to sit and eat while Raj watches (except when it comes to Ribs. I can eat Ribs all day long. Yum.) and even when they do, there is usually only one item on the menu that is veggie, so it can get a bit boring. Another is defamation laws in Korea. Woah boy are those strict. So strict that you basically can’t post a bad review whilst naming an establishment online, for fear of being sued. And even if you don’t overtly name the establishment, but allude to it in such a way that it can prove your review was responsible for losing it buisness, you can still get in trouble. Bearing this in mind, I’m only writing about the resturants that I like to go to in Songdo. I have by no means been to all the restuarants so feel free to add your favourites in the comments but there are certain ones I’ve left out on purpose.

Oh, and from your time in Korea you might have also noticed that the way the locals number their floors is different too. What we in Europe (not for long for the UK…sob!) call the ground floor is the first floor here, and then it carries on from there: European First Floor = Korean Second Floor and so on. On my map, I’ve given the Korean floors so that if you have to go up you know what button to hit on the lifts!

Banes Taco

Located on Central-Ro nearer to the Convensia-Daero end is a little Mexican joint that is perfect for a quick lunch or some after work beers and tacos while watching the sun go down. My favourite thing to eat here are the chimichangas (incidentally, also the name of the first Mexican restaurant I ever went to and the first Mexican dish I ever ate) and they do cater reasonably well for veggies. Try the Guava Soda too – it’s a hit of sugary deliciousness 🙂 I believe the owner speaks English as well, so they may also be able to cater to any trickier dietary requirements.

Burgerroom

Only the chips are veggie friendly here, but I often send Raj to get me a takeout and make veggie burgers for him at home, so we can eat same-same-but-different. The burgers here are big and meaty and juicy and yes, I feel really fat after demolishing one of these bad boys. Always with Bacon and Avocado. Always.

Café Hilo

A tiny cute little lunch spot that is perfect for paninis, salads and even some pizza.

Café Jarb

On the second floor of the G-Tower, this is the easiest option for GCF Staff. Aeran, the owner is super friendly and depending on how busy they are, she is willing to accommodate particular sandwich or salad requests. In fact, her latest menu has a sandwich named after one particular person in the G-Tower (not GCF I think) who always asked for a combination that others would copy!

Cave Beer

The best pizza in Songdo, albeit a bit on the pricier side. They do take out as well and is a tried and tested option for movie night!

Dominos 

Everybody needs some Dominoes goodness once in a while. If you speak Korean, you can order delivery, but we tend to turn up and take out – it’s just as easy!

Gianni Napoli

Located on the first floor on NC Cube – I think it is in winter, but if you walk along the Arts Centre Daero Side of NC Cube eventually you’ll come across it. Or you could just check the store guide at the start, whatever. Yummy pizzas and lasagne, with a limited wine list. They also do take away pizzas too. If you are a large group, you are recommended to book as the restaurant, much like many others in Songdo, isn’t huge but you’ll likely need a Korean speaking colleague to help you with the booking! Either that of get off your ass at lunchtime and take a walk – it’s good for you after all!

Impasto

Possibly our favourite Italian in Songdo with a chef who was trained oversees. Their steak, pastas and salads are all yum and in line with restaurant pricing in Korea generally. They don’t do takeaways unfortunately but service is quick and friendly so it’s no hardship to eat here!! 1st Floor, near Awesome International Mart.

Korean BBQ

OK. Obviously there are NO END to the BBQ restaurants you’ll find in Songdo. Seriously, just go for a walk and I dare you not to find one within 10 minutes. But there are two that I have been to and are our go-to restaurants for when visitors arrive. The first is the Beef BBQ restaurant on the corner of our street and Convensia Daero (ish). Order the Wagyu Set and cook away. The second is the BBQ in the Hanok Village in Central Park. Now the beauty of this place is the setting – its super pretty and also, when you call up to book a table, you can (and must) pre-order a hot vegetarian Bibimbap which by all accounts is super tasty. I understand that if you don’t pre-order for veggies, you can only get a cold Bibimbap which, whilst nice, is altogether less satisfying.

La Campagne

Another Italian with a deli counter for when you want to close your eyes and buy real cheese or sausage no matter the cost! Pizzas are big and filling and when the weather is pleasant, it’s nice to sit outside and watch the world pass through the park.

La Casa

Our top choice for Mexican food in Songdo. You WANT a house Margarita to accompany your meal and the owner speaks English, so adjusting to different tastes isn’t a problem. They at getting more and  more popular however, so book in advance for groups or get there early to snag a table!

Old Songdo

I’ve lumped Old Songdo together largely because I don’t know how to show these places on a map. There is (usually) always a logic behind  my actions. I’ve eaten at a fusion Arabian-Indian Restaurant called Arabesque, a Korean BBQ with a red sign and the altogether fancier Nostalgia. The BBQ restaurant can’t cater for vegetarians, so if you have one, feed it in advance of heading there!

PF Changs

I was super thrilled to discover a PF Changs in Seoul last year during Chuseok and even ore so when I found out that a branch has been opened in Triple Street. Whilst we are yet to eat at the local branch, I have no doubt that it will be every bit as delicious as the fake-Chinese-food I have come to love over the years. Mmmmm #beefwithbroccoli

Saint Augustine

Apparently this wonderful little restaurant has been in Songdo longer than us yet I only discovered it recently. Simon, the owner, speaks English and is great at suggesting dishes that can be vegetarianised. The sticky thai fish is my favourite and if you go with me, it is likely I won’t share. Unless you order something equally delicious in which case the more the merrier! Located in Dream City on the 1st floor, there is parking in the basement – apparently you have to pay for the parking but we haven’t figured out how to do that yet (I think the pay to park stops after 8pm. I think.)

Swagat

The only Indian restaurant in Songdo that we like to eat at. Located on the 3rd floor, near the drive through Macdonalds. Parking in the basement can be a little tricky but persevere and you will triumph and be able to gorge yourself on Lamb Saag and Mango Lassi. They also deliver (Over 30,000won – so I order extra food and don’t cook for two days!) or you can go and pick up.

Toulon 

A French restaurants vetted and approved of by actual French people (Hi AnaMatt!) On the 1st floor of the same building as Swagat, I had the duck and the crème brulee, which I would totally have again. Nothing for veggies except dessert and like a lot of restaurants here, closed on Monday.

I’m sure I’m missing a couple of places but equally sure that when he reads it, Raj (hello!) will point out my omissions. He’ll probably also have a lot to say about my attempt at marking places on a map, but I know that I’m broadly in the right areas at least and anyway, it’s good for you to discover these places for yourself, so actually, I’m just being helpful! Where more than one restaurant is marked by a cross it is because they are super close to each other and I can’t fit enough Xs on the map! (ed. It’s possible that all this writing about food has left our blogger in a state of delirium, so don’t mind her and we’ll pack her off for some lunch now!)

Bon Aproveché!

Restaurants

Update 18/10/2017: Here’s a Brucey-Bonus for you (Sidebar: How long until that catchphrase dies out? RIP Mr Forsyth!) Opposite Central Park. on the Korean 2nd floor, on the Burgerroom side of the street is a new Indian restaurant BombayBrau. A chain (we’ve seen them in both Busan and Seoul) the food is tasty and the home-brewed beers complement it well. Definitely one for the revisiting list but a word of caution: If you don’t do well with spice, it is worth asking them to tone it done when ordering!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Riverdale

I watch so much TV that it was inevitable that I would start reviewing shows and movies. The main problem with this lays with the fact that I am so behind on a number of cult shows (I only finished watching Breaking Bad in April 2017, and don’t even ask when I’m going to watch Better Call Saul) that not many people would find my reviews of any use or interest. That’s where the #netflixoriginals come in. A few weeks ago, I binged watched the first five episodes of #Riverdale and each week since, I have been waiting for the latest episode to be released – Friday America time, so it is usually Saturday morning before I get my fix.  And yes, I am hooked.

The initial pull came from the fact that it is loosely based on the Archie comics of my childhood. Hands up if one of your favourite things about a trip to India was being let loose in the bookstore to carry as many books and comics (Archie, TinTin, Asterix) as your little arms could carry? Flashback to Sydney 2016 when Raj found me after 10 minutes alone in a bookstore sitting on the floor surrounded by books and almost in tears trying to decide which ones to cull. I guess some things you never grow out of. Anyway, I digress.

So Riverdale. The show is set in the same town as the comics and the main characters share a name, and some basic personality traits with their literary counterparts but therein end the similarities. The TV show has been given a definite update for the 21st Century, with a healthy injection of film noire and modern-day anxieties and crimes running rife. Gone are the Dawson’s Creek type high school worries and in come changed identities while on the run from violent ex-partners, murder, embezzlement and psychiatric breakdowns. Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Veronica, Betty, Moose, Midge, Ethel. They are all there but fighting a whole different set of battles. Interestingly, the show has also jumped on the diversity bandwagon and many of the lead characters are #poc or at least have some ethnic ambiguity.

The first episode was a little strange I must admit. I kinda wanted to see the old school Betty and Veronica rivalry over lovable goon Archie, while Jughead sits in the side-lines  scoffing burgers and running from Ethel. Moose and Midge fighting, Reggie causing trouble, Archie’s parents being picture-perfect and Veronica’s dad being the over indulgent spoiler that every little girl deserves. But actually, whilst the sweeter than sweet version worked in pen and ink, I don’t think it would have translated well to the screen. So once I got over my expectations what I got was actually way better. Betty isn’t just the nice girl next door and Veronica is much more than the entitled rich bitch that everyone wants to be in with. They are forming the kind of ‘hos over bros’ friendship that goes beyond frenemies and you know that they have each others backs and Archie is not going to get in the middle like he always does. Veronica’s mum is totally present and figuring out how to fit herself back into her previous world and supports her daughter. Fred Andrews (er HELLO Luke Perry, your comeback to the screen is so very welcome) is figuring out life in a single parent world and the Coopers are hiding the truth about their elder daughter’s illegitimate pregnancy by calling it a mental illness. Underlying the entire series is the classic ‘Who dunnit’ storyline – who killed Jason Blossom? I’ve basically suspected every character, so I am looking forward to finding out who the killer actually is – and I really hope that they don’t make finding out a cliff hanger into Season 2.

As the episodes progress, darker issues rear their ugly heads causing concern about the newly-lovable characters but helpfully, it is a kind of concern that I can put aside for a week at a time without worrying too much. I think, given that I’m a girl who’ll read the end of the book first so that I can prepare myself for the worst, that this lack of concern is what they call progress.

I’m currently on episode 11 and we are no closer to finding out who the killer is but Polly is living with the Blossom’s (family of her baby-daddy) to do some snooping whilst it appears that Jughead’s dad has been framed for it, Betty & Jughead’s burgeoning relationship (I know!!)  has hit the rocks,  and it looks like Archie and Veronica might be taking real steps towards being together… Watch this space I guess.

If you’ve been taking a break from Netflix binge-ing, order in, get your fat pants on and binge away – totally worth it!